Friday, July 29, 2005

Second road trip!

On Sunday, we attended Teresa's church service at the River of Life Church. It is the biggest Chinese church I have seen outside of Asia! Their history is quite interesting though, just an amazing church that is rooted in prayer and missions.

Then on Monday, Joyce and I headed out for our second road trip to Yosemite National Park.

Amazing -- could it really be by chance?

Distance-wise, it is not too far from San Jose, but a lot of the roads are mountainous; the total drive time is exactly 4 hours. Having slept in, we left at around noon, so we arrived to check in at our hotel right at 4pm. Every day, there is a sunset tour that leaves from our hotel at 4pm; everyone has to reserve early because a dinner is arranged. But we asked if we could join if we had our own food; there was room, so the tourguide was happy to have us join them! Timing couldn't be more perfect. [We also saved $10 because we weren't going to eat their food, haha.]

The tourguide was an amazing person, just exuding with joy and awe at nature. On the tour, we took a couple of trail hikes that most tourists don't find [but there are SO many hikes you can take at Yosemite, it's a huge park.] so it was really nice.

Here's a map of Yosemite (pdf) for reference.

The sunset walking tour took us close up to the Yosemite Falls, short hike to Bridalveil Falls, the quiet frog-singing Summit Meadow, up on the Glacier Point Road and a moderate hike atop Sentinel Dome for the sunset. After the sun went down, we hiked back to the parking area and just admired the starry, starry night sky. Our tourguide, Sarah, was incredibly knowledgeable about all aspects of nature, including the constellation-laden sky... pointing out and describing the size of the Scorpio constellation (too bad we couldn't rotate the earth... it's cut off in half by the horizon) and others.

The size of the park and the sights are just incredible.

The next day, Joyce and I explored on our own, and following Sarah's advice, took the less-taken Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadow. The drive didn't take a long as we expected [it's *so* fun to drive... mastering the mountain curves, haha, despite my fear of heights. =p] Along the way or on the way back, we stopped at Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake (beautiful!), Tuolumne Meadow area, and around Lembert Dome. Finally, took a tour of the Yosemite Valley (it's the most popular place but we didn't spend too much time there), before heading down to the Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoias. All in all, we covered a *lot* of ground!

Of course, being as silly as we were, the breathtaking scenery was accompanied by silly photo-taking. =p [click on photos to enlarge]

Generic shot of "Cathedral rocks", one of Yosemite's many signatures.

Bridalveil falls from a slight distance. At its peak, it's the fifth-longest "single-stream" waterfall. We came at an amazing time! The strength of the waterfall is determined by melting snow; usually by July, the waterfalls are drying up, if not dry, but due to the heavy snowfall this past winter, the waterfalls were still going strong!

The two of us getting wet underneath Bridalveil

Summit Meadows, where we were listening for singing frogs, but some people were making a lot of noise around to distract...

Incredible sight on top of Sentinel Dome

Backdrop looks fake =p but it was amazing!

So romantic! Haha...

One day's worth of pictures first... =)

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